Sourcing plastic enclosures for touchscreen applications

Smart-Panel enclosures

OKW Enclosures’ director of marketing, Robert Cox, walks readers through their purchasing options when sourcing enclosures for touchscreen-based products

Touchscreens are everywhere but housing them can be challenging. Until recently there were few dedicated standard enclosures for touch displays. But smart new standard enclosures are changing that. They suit a broad spectrum of applications and they can be customised quickly and cost-effectively, even in smaller volumes. 

Touchscreens are tactile so their enclosures must be ergonomic, whether handheld, wall-mounted or desktop. That means soft contours and other desirable features such as: ingress protection to IP65; UV stability; choice of model versions and sizes; tamperproof assembly (especially for medical applications) and plenty of customisation options. 

Users expect a handheld touchscreen device to be as good as their mobile phone. However, what if the electronics won’t fit a mobile-sized case? OKW has created Slim-Case, a mobile touchscreen enclosure that’s bigger than it first appears.  

Viewed from above, it looks like a mobile phone housing: low profile, virtually frameless design and a soft-touch TPE intermediate ring. Closer inspection reveals a sculpted rear section that offers more space and makes the enclosure more comfortable to hold. The operating panel can be flat (for displays, buttons and LEDs), 1.6mm recess for a touchscreen or membrane keypad, or 1.0mm recess for thinner product labels. 

For larger products, the company’s Carrytec is a small, medium or large attaché case for monitoring, diagnostics, communications and data collection. It can be carried, docked in a charging station, clipped to a hospital bedrail or mounted on a suspension arm. An outdoor version is available in UV-stable ASA+PC-FR for agriculture and forestry applications. 

For building control applications, OKW’s Smart-Panel flush-fits into standard-sized cavity wall boxes, leaving just the top to frame a touchscreen. Screwless assembly means no visible fixings. The product’s creator, polyform Industrie Design’s Martin Nußberger, said: “Only a narrow frame surrounds the user interface and the base of the enclosure blends in. Nothing is revealed about how this enclosure is screwed on to the wall—no fixing points, no joints.” 

These UV-stable ASA+PC-FR enclosures can also be specified for desktop electronics by adding non-slip feet. 

Desktop enclosures must be easy to view and operate but touchscreens more so because they can be prone to glare. OKW’s Protec square control centre has a 20deg sloping front for easy viewing and operation. Three versions offer either: a large rear recess for connectors; a flush-fit cover that hides the recess; or an extra-deep cover that doubles as a desk stand. 

Slim-Case enclosures

Another desktop enclosure, Evotec, is available with a flat or sloping top. The soft-contoured large operating area is inclined by 12deg, ideal for desktop applications and also for wall mounting. 

For maximum flexibility, OKW’s modular Interface-Terminal lets customers specify their perfect enclosure by selecting the preferred pieces. Choose the bottom section and cover, then add a front/glass panel (if required), seal and installation kit (for flush-mounting in walls). 

Using the same model for different roles, ensures design continuity and creates cost efficiencies by ordering larger numbers of the same enclosure sections. 

By partnering with an enclosures manufacturer that provides the full range of customisation services (machining, finishing, digital printing and laser marking etc), customised housings can be shipped straight to the production line ready for component installation. 

OKW Enclosures’ director of marketing, Robert Cox, said: “One expert manufacturer is fully accountable for the consistent quality of your enclosures from start to finish. You’ll get peace of mind and a more streamlined order process.”